A Collaboration of LGBTQI Community and religious leaders in Africa: a way to better Inclusion
In a webinar organised by We Belong Africa on 11 December with the theme “What’s in it for LGBTQI communities?”, part of a new series on the Sustainable Development Goals and LGBTQI inclusion in Africa by Pan Africa ILGA, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and United Nations Development Programme – UNDP. We asked a question on the importance of religion (Christianity in sub Saharan Africa and Islam in the North Africa) in enhancing inclusion and acceptance, also we inquired on the step of LGBTQI communities and religious leaders toward Collaboration or dialogue.
The two panelists shared their views and understanding on the topic and recognised the role that religion can play for acceptance and inclusion. Joe Bonga, a founder and director Africa for SDGs and CEO of Leadership and Development Academy was among the panelists and expressed the presence of a collaboration with the churches and pointed out the issue of immigration based on religion or religious institutions discrimination. He also said that the big problem is that LGBTQI community is sexualised. Which should not be the the case. However, he also said that LGBTQI community is willing to talk with intentional strategies in that way they can understand what they( religious leaders) know and what they don’t know. The purpose of giving time to express the institutions’ ideas is to be able to provide knowledge by clarifying certain issues for better collaboration and Dialogue. Therefore, such institutions can promote inclusion in a better way. In other words, these institutions “… are very important if the community aims at meaningful victory for the fight for LGBTQI”. He added.
Achieng Akena, a panelist also replied by confirming that LGBTQI community has been in dialogue with some religious leaders in some places such as Mombasa. Which unfortunately, as she said happens to be happening at the local level, where LGBTQI activists try to provide resources to religious leaders. She also pointed out the challenge they face:It is not dynamic as large as they would like to be, it is usually unsustained, there is the lack of financial support which limits activities. Moreover, another problem is that some religious leaders who are willing to stand up and speak up about LGBTQI Community face backlash to an extent of being evicted from their congregations.
Achieng also added that what is needed, is courage for LGBTQI activists because there is need to engage at a national platform and make sure that those who are working on SDGs at a national level realise that LGBTQI issue should be put in the framework